Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I'm not qualified to talk about Elena Kagan in terms of jurisprudence, so I won't. I haven't really done much research on her politics, but from what I hear nobody really knows much, and while this is a (worthy) subject of much discussion, it's not what I want to talk about since I haven't done what's necessary to discuss it intelligently.

The main thing I feel like commenting on right now is the whisper debate going on regarding her sexual orientation. I have no idea if she's gay or straight. I can understand, I suppose, why some people think that she is. But I'm going to join Digby in saying that what Elena Kagan chooses to say about herself is her truth by right. I don't mean by this that a person can be nominated for a major political office and declaim whatever biography they choose; I mean, rather, that in this case and on this point if she says she's straight, she's straight, and that's good enough for me. Where does anybody else get off saying she's lying or mistaken in this day and age?

I can construct a vaguely reasonable argument for where they get off, of course, and the argument has no doubt been made; but the argument rests on the significance of her hypothetical homosexuality for future decisions on gay rights, and how that significance changes if she is out or not. It does not rest on the fact that she's denied it. I choose to believe her because to do otherwise is patronizing and disrespectful.

I won't lie; I would love it if President Obama would nominate and stand by an openly gay justice. I've been revisiting my favorite show of all time, The West Wing, a great deal lately, and my hunger for a lefty President with the courage of his convictions and a record of wins to back it up remains as real as it was when I was fifteen and convinced I wanted to be Deputy Chief of Staff when I grew up. But as far as I know, Obama's not the guy and this is not the fight I'd love to see. For that matter, this is probably not the universe in which that fight ends as I'd like it to.

Given all that, I have no problem with Elena Kagan other than a certain wistfulness which is certainly not her fault. I wish her a smooth, vigorous, and serious confirmation process and I wish everyone would shut up about why she has no kids and wears her hair short.

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